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Benson, Nessel ask federal judge to toss redistricting challenge

A detail Michigan congressional district maps drawn in 2011.
Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson are asking a federal judge to toss a challenge to the state’s new redistricting law.

They say restrictions on who can serve on the new redistricting commission are legal.

The amendment to create the commission was adopted last year by voters. The amendment says former elected officials, party activists, and their relatives are not eligible to serve.

Tony Daunt is with the Michigan Freedom Fund, which filed the challenge. He says the amendment restricts too many people who’ve engaged in some type of political activity from serving on the commission. He says that violates free speech and free association rights.

“And to punish someone based on who they’re related to is about as unconstitutional and un-American as you can get,” he said.

Daunt says until a better way is found, it should remain up to the state Legislature to draw congressional and legislative districts.

“It’s a violation. It’s a blatant violation, and one we think should be adjudicated by the courts and, ultimately, removed from the state constitution,” he said.

Daunt says the job of redistricting should return to the Legislature until a new, constitutional process is created. Nessel and Benson say the restrictions on who can serve on the commission are based on potential conflicts of interest by the people drawing the lines, and are legal.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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